Delay of USP vote good opportunity for student input

The decision last week to take more time for discussion before voting on the proposed changes to the University Studies Program was the right one to make. Students should use the delay as an opportunity to get more involved in revising UK’s general education requirements.

The proposal that is currently under discussion represents a radical change in USP requirements and is an attempt to move the focus of UK’s general education program to developing critical thinking and emphasizing students’ roles as global citizens.

The USP requirements are certainly due for an overhaul, as the current program has been in place for 20 years with only minor revisions. Several committees have studied the program in recent years, and it’s encouraging to see that the USP Reform Steering Committee did not shy away from radical changes.

However, sweeping changes to a program that will affect all new students at the university should not be rushed.

Originally, the committee that created the proposal had hoped for a vote by the University Senate to come as early as December, with implementation starting as early as the Fall 2009 freshman class. However, after a series of faculty forums in late October, the vote was pushed back until at least next semester.

Though the desire to implement changes quickly and not let them become mired in debate is understandable, USP reform warrants a more deliberate pace. We commend the administration for taking faculty concerns into consideration and realizing that more discussion is necessary.

Faculty members, especially those already involved in teaching classes that fulfill the current USP requirements, will undoubtedly discuss the proposal in depth in the coming months.

Ultimately, though, the changes are meant to benefit students, and students should be taking an active role in the reform process. While no one who is currently enrolled at UK will have to complete the new requirements, current students are in a position to comment on the benefits and shortcomings of USP in a way that faculty members cannot.

With the University Senate’s vote delayed, students have more time to make their voices a part of the discussion. We encourage all students, whether they’re seniors who have had time to reflect on their undergraduate experience or freshmen who are still in the middle of USP courses, to do just that.

More information about the changes and a copy of the reform committee’s proposal are available on UK’s Web site on general education (